Skip to comments.Hot air over bird deaths to stall windmills?
Posted on 12/09/2003 1:40:07 AM PST by JohnHuang2
Hot air over bird deaths
to stall windmills?
Activist likens turbines to 'terrestrial Exxon Valdez'
Posted: December 8, 2003
6:16 p.m. Eastern
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
They were touted by environmentalists as an alternative source of pollution-free electric power that was good for the planet, but 20 years and countless dollars later environmentalists are now crying foul over the Altamont wind farm east of San Francisco Bay.
Windmills generate electric power at Altamont Pass, Calif. (EPA Photo: Christy Shake.)
Two organizations seek to block the renewal of permits for nearly 1,400 wind towers for the sake of birds. An estimated 22,000 have died due to run-ins with the structures' blades, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and other raptors.
"Renewing these permits without addressing the cumulative impacts of wind energy on migratory birds, especially raptor species, will give a black eye to wind power," the Los Angeles Times quotes Michael Boyd, president of Californians for Renewable Energy, as saying.
Boyd's group and the Center for Biological Diversity seek to reverse a recent decision by an Alameda County zoning board that granted permit renewals in November to some of the wind power operators in the area, accounting for nearly 1,400 windmills.
Alameda County planners estimate there are about 4,000 operational wind turbines in the county, reports the Alameda Times-Star. Most were approved between 1983 and 1988, before the hazard wind turbines in the Altamont Pass pose to birds was fully understood.
Activists claim the county is obligated to conduct an environmental review of the windmills before it renews permits.
"The county did everyone a disservice by choosing to ignore the true impacts of these turbines, which are the equivalent of a terrestrial Exxon Valdez every year," Jeff Miller, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Times in reference to the oil spill that killed an estimated 250,000 seabirds and 250 bald eagles.
Miller vows legal action unless the county reviews the impact of the turbines on birds and considers implementing changes in the 50,000-acre wind farm to deter avian fatalities.
Among the changes recommended by the California Energy Commission, according to the Times, is painting the turbine blades a different color to make them more visible to birds.
The California Energy Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working with the wind-farm operators to find ways of reducing the deaths.
Industry officials told the Times they felt blindsided by the flip-flop of environmentalists on the issue and were angered by the Exxon Valdez bird-kill comparison.
"It would take 400 years to reach [the Exxon Valdez] number here, " Steven Steinhour, vice president of Seawest, a San Diego wind power company with holdings in Altamont, told the Times.
The flap over bird deaths has hampered the growth of the industry, according to an industry-funded advocacy group, the National Wind Coordinating Committee.
Its 2001 report concludes the controversy has "delayed and even significantly contributed to blocking the development of some wind plants in the U.S."
Although many wind farms around the world co-exist well with birds, avian biologists say the Altamont Pass wind farm deserves extra attention because it's home to one of the largest nesting populations of golden eagles in the world.
But the wind-farm industry report puts the bird deaths into perspective, contending more birds get killed every year in collisions with vehicles (60 million) and window panes (98 million) than windmills.
"When you turn on your lights you kill something, no matter what the source of electricity," maintains Paul Kerlinger, a New Jersey biologist who works as an industry consultant.
Defending the zoning board's renewal of permits, member Larry Gosselin told the Alameda Times-Star the bird deaths must be weighed against the benefits of producing electricity without producing greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
estimated by whom?? I estimated 10 total =o)
We've all heard the saying, "Blind as an eagle."
The windmills are visible for miles. Why anyone thinks birds can't see them is beyond me. Deer don't get hit by cars because they can't see cars. (If so, they would be running into parked cars.) They get hit because they can't or don't account for the speed and direction the car is moving. I imagine the windmill blades are the same.
That said, I think we should start referring to wind power advocates as "eagle killers," just for fun.
At least Pol Pot had the 'decency' to shoot his victims. These idiots would let us slowly starve or freeze to death.
But I do love it when they eat their own.
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Robert James Bidinotto
We're all doomed!
Yes, what's the deal with California birds?
Here, I string up monofiliment line over the vegetable garden to keep them out, and it seems they "see" it, and avoid it. Nary a bird I have found garroted by that line.
Perhaps Florida birds have better eyesight?
I keep flicking my light switch in the hope that I might contribute to the demise of a liberal thought.
Of course you have the correct arguement, but its nice to see these bad science folks at odds with each other. You want birds, or do you want energy? Could birds be harnessed to turn a generator? Perhaps we could use the energy from the wind turbines to power large fans to blow the birds to safety? Its all ridiculous, and this is a case that makes it very clear. There is always a price to pay, and we are deeply in love with our power grid. But there is a solution, tear down the ugly windmills, and build clean nice looking nuclear reactors to make energy and everybody comes out ahead. (Especially since nuclear energy is truely renewable and not dependent on the weather.) You can even put roosts for eagles and hawks on the roof. Heh heh.
It's a win win situation.
Birds are educated at public schools, and therefore can't read.
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